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Golf Notes December 13

Mark O'Meara was the first player to tout the benefits of multilayer golf balls when he began using the Strata in 1996. Now he is the latest player to endorse the Titleist Pro VI, signing a deal that gives him new clubs, a new ball, and renewed enthusiasm.

The 43-year-old O'Meara, who started his career in 1980 with a Titleist ball, signed a six-year deal believed to be worth about $10 million.

For that, he becomes a Titleist man from head to toe -- the hat, bag, clubs, ball, glove, and shoes. He will continue his relationship with Toyota, which will have its logo on the chest of his shirt and the left side of his hat.

While O'Meara hasn't won since his dream season of 1998, the signing is important to Titleist because of his history with non-wound balls -- and because it gives Titleist someone who had been using another product.

The Pro VI received a tremendous response when it made its debut in Las Vegas, with nearly one-third of the field switching. Acushnet also ponied up to keep Davis Love III, Phil Mickelson, and Jesper Parnevik to stay with the Titleist ball.

"It doesn't do me any good to convert all my Titleist players to the Pro VI,'' Acushnet chief Wally Uihlein said. "If we're going to make some noise, put an exclamation point on this product, we've got to win over some competitive people. That's when eyebrows get raised.''

Along with new equipment, O'Meara says he has the desire to again become a regular contender on tour. He finished 112th on the 2000 PGA Tour money list, his worst season since 1982. But he doesn't regret trying to cash in on opportunities that came from winning the 1998 Masters and British Open, because he might not get another chance.

"I might have lost a little desire and a little fire,'' he said. "But the more I realized how much I love to complete, and to not play at a level I think I should ... finally it gets you mad enough to not stand for this. Can I get back to being ranked second in the world? I don't know. But I'm definitely enjoying the battle.''


If Meg Mallon wins the Nabisco Championship in March, it would give her four LPGA majors.

But would that give her the career Grand Slam?

These are some of the issues that arise when majors change. The du Maurier Classic, which Mallon won in August, is no longer on the schedule because of anti-tobacco legislation in Canada. The LPGA recently decided the Women's British Open would be the fourth major.

"They can never take the major away from you,'' said Sherri Steinhauer, who won the du Maurier as a major and a British Open when it wasn't. "But I think you'll have to win all four majors at that time.''

Along with Mallon, two other players lack only one major for a Grand Slam -- Karrie Webb (LPGA Championship) and Laura Davies (Nabisco). Both already have won a British Open before it was designated a major.

LPGA commissioner Ty Votaw agrees it can be confusing, but offered a simple solution: Four majors equal a Grand Slam.

He said Mallon would be credited with the slam if she wins Nabisco, even though she hasn't won the British Open. But if she wins only the British next year, she still wouldn't have the Grand Slam since the Nabisco remains a major.


The galleries were enormous in Argentina for the EMC World Cup last week, and most of them were pulling for the local team of Eduardo Romero and Angel Cabrera. But Romero said he didn't feel any more pressure.

"I think I have more pressure 15 years ago,'' he said. "I only had two pesos in my pocket, and I had to play for 150,000 pesos.''


Were those electronic leaderboards or electronic billboards during the World Cup? That's what Tiger Woods wanted to know when he kept looking for scores on Saturday and saw mostly advertising for future World Golf Championship events.

`"Leaderboards are not very good here,'' he said after the third round. "They're doing more advertising than they are flashing the scores.''

By Sunday, as he and David Duval were cruising to victory, Woods said excessive promotions were not a problem.

"I guess they got the message ... because there wasn't any advertising,'' Woods said. "I only saw the scores.''


David Duval is done with Mossimo, and probably the mock turtleneck shirts that he wore as part of his deal.

Duval has a new deal with Zegna clothing, which provided his shirts during the EMC World Cup, and with Siebel, a software company whose logo he wore on his chest.

He wasn't under contract to wear collarless shirts with Mossimo, but agent Charley Moore said his guess is that Zegna "won't be as fashion-oriented.''


British golf writer Derek Lawrenson last week was denied reinstatement as an amateur by the Royal & Ancient Golf Club for accepting a Lambourghini when he made a hole-in-one.

Lawrenson said one question on the application for reinstatement asked how long he was in breech of the rules of amateur status. His reply: five seconds.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Golf Association said Monday a record 571 players were reinstated as amateurs this year.


The LPGA Tour set a record this year with 12 sudden-death playoffs. None lasted more than two holes, with five of them ending on the first hole. ... Jose Maria Olazabal says he still supports the European Tour, but plans to play a substantial portion of the West Coast swing on the PGA Tour. One reason is because the European schedule is weak that time of the year, with significant travel required. ...NBC Sports will broadcast the USGA's year in review Saturday at 3 p.m., which features Tiger Woods's record-setting U.S. Open victory at Pebble Beach, and what is likely the last Open appearance by Jack Nicklaus.


April is the only month that Tiger Woods failed to win a tournament this year.


"I do plan to get married. And it will be in the future.'' - Tiger Woods, on whether marriage is in his future.

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